The Washington Post
Season of firsts rolls on for Hokies with No. 1 nod
Virginia Tech, fresh off winning the ACC tournament, was rewarded with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA women’s tournament Sunday night. The Hokies were placed in the Seattle 3 region and will host No. 16 seed Chattanooga on Friday. Southern California, the No. 8 seed, and No. 9 seed South Dakota State round out the competition in Blacksburg.
The tournament championship gave the Hokies (27-4) the second-most wins in school history, one behind a 28-3 season in 1998-99, and its No. 4 Associated Press ranking is the highest in program history. That 1998-99 season ended with a loss in an NCAA regional semifinal. The ACC tournament title was the first for the program, which has won 14 of 15 games.
The Hokies have continued to improve under seventh-year coach Kenny Brooks, and this will be the third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance after a 14-year drought. The No. 1 seed is a first in school history, topping the No. 4 seed earned by the 1998-99 team. Brooks was a semifinalist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year award.
Spearheading the renaissance has been senior center and twotime ACC player of the year Elizabeth Kitley, who led the team at 18.6 points per game, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while shooting 56.3 percent. She is a semifinalist for the Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year award, was the only player in the conference to average a double-double and led the ACC in rebounds while being named to the all-defensive team. Kitley was also named first-team allACC with teammate Georgia Amoore, who was voted MVP of the ACC tournament. Forward Taylor Soule was voted to the all-acc second team.
Brooks runs a tight rotation with six players averaging at least 23 minutes and four averaging more than 30. That has caused some controversy as guard Ashley Owusu, who was one of the top transfers in the nation out of Maryland, hasn’t played more than eight minutes or scored a point since the start of February.
She was a multi-time all-big Ten selection, a two-time Big Ten tournament MVP and a 2021 third-team all-american. She was named the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award winner, given to the nation’s top shooting guard, in 2021 at Maryland.
Owusu did not play in the ACC tournament and recently told the Next, a women’s basketball website, that she is healthy and will turn pro instead of using her fifth year of eligibility.